Summary: 6th in this series. Concept borrowed from Tim Cook, a fellow preacher. A Study of Matthew 25 and how the church can put it into practice.
Intro: Matthew 25:34-40
Being sick is one set of circumstances every one of us can relate to. I don’t care who you are, you’ve been sick, or are sick, or are about to be sick. It’s just a fact of life.
One of the first questions we start asking when someone gets sick is: Where did it come from?
Food poisoning – where did you eat?
Flu – who were you around?
Heart attack or cancer – do you have a history of this in your family?
Sniffles – do you have allergies? What are you allergic to?
We want to understand where it comes from so that we can avoid it. So, this morning, as we talk about caring for “the least of these,” and specifically about those who are sick (or feeble), let’s begin by considering why they’re sick and how that fits into our whole view of people who are sick.
I. Where it all begins
Joke - Man walks into the doctor, not feeling good. He has a stalk of celery in one ear, a banana in his other ear, and a carrot up his right nostril. He tells the doctor he’s just not feeling good at all. The doctor looks at him and says, “Well, I know what’s wrong with you. You’re just not eating right!”
The doctor’s first concern is diagnosis, isn’t it? If he can figure out what’s wrong, from there he or she can help determine a course of treatment. But, to know how to deal with sickness, they have to first understand what’s causing it. Let me tell you what’s making people sick today: Adam and Eve.
To really understand sickness, we need to go back to Genesis 3. It was there, in the moment of selfish pursuit that our first parents chose not to listen to God. They disobeyed, and as a result the perfect creation was changed. When they chose to act in opposition to God, they not only betrayed their relationship with Him, they also betrayed their responsibility as the stewards and caretakers of creation. So, man’s relationship with God was changed, and man’s relationship to creation changed - the earth was changed.
To the woman [God] said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
So, here was a world without sickness or death or growing old and feeble. Then, Adam and Eve fall, and it all changes. So let’s begin there: all sickness starts as a result of that Fall. Before that time, things like death, cancer, strokes, thorns, chigger bites, and beets, didn’t exist. So, people who are feeble, sick, or somehow physically compromised, are victims of the Fall, just like everyone who dies – which is all of us. These are alien presences in God’s creation. So, in a way, sickness can be compared to poverty, hunger, oppression, and other things that cause people to be needy.
II. Where it takes us
John 9. The disciples look at a man born blind. He’s an adult. His whole life, he hasn’t been able to work a trade, to be physically strong. He sits there, pathetic. So, the disciples are faced with a dilemma. After all, everyone knows that things like blindness are a result of some sin. But here’s a guy who was born this way. So they ask the obvious question: “Whose fault is it that he was born blind – him or his parents?”
Really, guys? Why aren’t you asking something like, “Is there anything we can do for this man?”
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
Jesus takes the wrong preoccupation of the disciples and directs their attention to the bigger issue at hand. The cause of this man’s blindness isn’t near as important as what’s going to happen because of his blindness. This happened to him not because he sinned, but so that the work of God can be displayed in his life.